Army of Northern Virginia: February to September 1862

McClellan’s Command

When did the loading begin?

Toward the end of March 1862. Over 100,000 men were loaded onto something in the neighborhood of 300 vessels and brought down the Potomac to Old Point Comfort. This was, almost certainly, the largest amphibious movement in nineteenth-century America, and it would not be exceeded in size till the First World War.

McClellan was involved in each and every aspect. He had won the hearts of his men by his obvious concern for their welfare. Whether they called him “Little Mac” or “Mighty Mac,” he was clearly the man, so far as they were concerned. Lincoln, observing from a distance, believed that a major move was at last under way. One foreign observer reported that the Army of the Potomac had made a giant stride, and that it acted like a giant.


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